|The rock group not the fictional character|
I recently stumbled upon three of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels as audio books. Curious about how they'd play in todays world I gave them a listen. They are, as expected, xenophobic, racist and culturally offensive. I would like to dismiss them out of hand, as I suspect many people in today's woke world would, except that listening to them I was struck by how exciting they are. Forgive me, but if you could strip away the racism of the Yellow Peril villain, you have series of rippingly good yarns of the sort the movies are always trying to replicate.
And there in lies the problem, how do we as a people handle all of the stories, both cinematic and literary, from earlier times that are rooted in questionable racial ideas? Do we let the the tales die and get lost or do we make some effort to keep them around in some form?
I’m not going to suggest I have any ideas, rather I just want to point out something that I have been pondering for a while now. There is a debate about whether we should keep them with a warning or to alter them or completely remove them. It's not an easy thing to figure out.
The reason I am asking this is because in listening to the Rohmer novels I was shocked at how, on the most basic level, the novels worked. They are the sort of tales that Hollywood would buy up and turn into a James Bond like franchise. The books really are good and if you could change the offending bits you might be able to make them into acceptable tales once more. The question is do we or should we?
To be honest I don't have any answers. I would suspect that what we do with culturally questionable pieces of art should be handled on a case by case basis, but some people want to rewrite the past with their own ideas as the guide. That is an equally questionable thing to do since without knowing the past we will be more likely to repeat past mistakes.
There are no easy answers.
Yes I posted a piece on GODZILLA VS KONG and I posted Kaiju Kim and Chock's video take on the film as well. However in all honesty the posting of my thoughts was just out of habit rather than the thought anyone was going to read it.
The problem is that with the way the world Unseen is not the place most people turn to to get the latest Hollywood blockbuster information. We are not the place everyone turns to for the latest Godzilla information (Kim's YouTube channel is, Unseen is definitely not)
But that's okay. Unseen was never set up to cover the Hollywood mega films. Yes we do it but in the explosion of opening day reviews our coverage is all but ignored by everyone other than the regular readers who want the off brand coverage.
The reality is that Unseen Films is really set up to highlight the small films and the festivals. The reality is that readers come to us to get word on the films the big outlets aren't covering. There is a reason that coverage at Unseen Films spikes when we do heavy festival coverage because we are covering more than the top ten or twenty must sees that say Entertainment Weekly will highlight in a line or two. Additionally we will cover the short films which very few big outlets will cover because they don't think people care. They do, more so now when the shorts end up on line.
Generally the traffic comes a couple of weeks after release, once everyone has read all the big outlet coverage. We also will noticed when we do a think piece on the films like the pieces by Dr Isaac Cates and Nate Hood on the Marvel and DC superhero films. If you need proof consider my piece from last weekend on superheroes in film was read by more people than my review of JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Readership also spikes on the smaller films a week or so after release as the movie goers begin to discover the various films and want some sort of word on them.
There was a point a while back where I got crazy because I wanted Unseen to try and be the outlet people turned to for all films. I wanted people to be reading all our coverage especially the big films. I wanted the big studios to notice... I got frustrated because I didn't think anyone was paying attention.
And then I looked at the numbers and then then I suddenly saw that people, filmmaker and not just PR people, were starting to come to us, and that we were being quoted and sought out and it occurred to me that maybe we were actually doing something right.
SO maybe no one cares right now what we say about Godzilla, but at some point they will and that will be fine....
An FYI on upcoming Film at Lincoln Center events;
Youn Yuh-jung—April 9-18
New Directors/New Films—April 28 – May 8
Human Rights Watch Film Festival—May 19-26
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema—May 28 – June 6
Hong Sangsoo’s The Power of Kangwon Province—opening June 11